In June we put the spotlight on the way farms and small businesses were adapting to changes brought about by the pandemic. Alpaca farms got creative by offering drive-through tours, visiting quarantined nursing home residents, and “Zooming” into the homes of alpaca fans around the globe.
The harvest season is perhaps the busiest time of year for farms of all types, and the cooler weather typically coincides with the hustle and bustle of farmers markets and craft fairs that extend into the winter months. Despite restrictions, farms continue to adapt and make the most of their current circumstances.
In the preceding months, organizations like the Cornell Small Farms Program have released resources to support farms as they navigate current challenges. For example, the Program’s “Best Management Practices for Agritourism Farms During the COVID-19 Pandemic” offers guidance to a wide range of farm types based on NY state law. Their best practices are highly valuable to those in and out of NY state looking for alternatives to traditional farm visits or suggested safety precautions. Looking for more resources? Check out NAFDMA / International Agritourism Association’s industry resource page.
“It’s a different kind of year isn’t it? Our fall agritourism season provides the bulk of our annual income, so we are very anxious about how it will turn out...Unless there are new developments, we believe we will be opening with precautions such as more cleaning and sanitizing, more hand-wash and hand sanitizing stations, facemasks encouraged and so on... We are sure the field trips will be much fewer but we have hopes that families will be hungry for outdoor activities to participate in.” -Wayne Bishop, Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm, Wheatland, Yuba County
With fall officially beginning in the next few weeks, farms are thinking about how to make the season work. In July, farmers throughout California came together to share their thoughts and for the Fall 2020 season. Though their reactions were varied, they all found ways to pivot their business strategies to the foreseen challenges, whether they plan to move some of their business online or change their site or ticketing to allow for proper distancing.
|A Fruitful Harvest|
So how are some of our favorite fall activities adapting? Leeds Farm, a popular spot for pumpkin picking in Ostrander, OH implemented ample sanitizing stations and offers advanced purchase tickets to allow for proper distancing. For those looking for fall blooms, Windmill Meadow Farm in Fredricksburg, CA offers a private tour of their flower farm by reservation, ensuring strict social distancing. Visitors get an in-depth look behind the scenes and go home with their own bouquet. “U-Pick” orchards have also had to make changes, including limiting group sizes and assigning visitors to particular rows. Some farms have found surprising benefits to new restrictions - one being that less product is eaten out in the field when masks are worn!
It goes to show that farms, alpaca farmers included, have found numerous ways to persevere under our current challenges. As we approach our busy season, flexibility will continue to be key. You may decide to branch out and offer opportunities to virtual learners, like Good Karma Ranch Alpacas. Or perhaps like Chakana Sky Alpaca Farm, you’ll rely on appointments to bring visitors through the door. If one thing is for certain, however, even when the world is at a standstill, farm life carries on.
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